I first read about the Nicholas Flamel YA series of books, by Michael Scott, on Deslily's blog - Here, There and Everywhere. She's been recommending them for years and for years I've been studiously ignoring her as I have enough series on the go. But book series are like salted peanuts - you can never have too many and, in one of her recent posts I took one look at the beauty of the covers and caved in and bought the first two.
The first one is The Alchemyst.
While their parents are away on a summer archeological dig, fifteen year old twins, Josh and Sophie, stay with their aunt in San Francisco. They have summer jobs in the same street, across the road from each other, Sophie in a coffee shop, Josh in a bookshop. The bookshop's owner is Nick Fleming a rather enigmatic figure that Josh has grown to like and admire.
One day the bookshop is attacked by one, Dr. John Dee, and three golems, intent on capturing an ancient book that Nick owns, the Book of Abraham the Mage. Using magic,they get hold of all but two pages, Nick's wife is kidnapped, and Nick and the twins are forced to flee. They collect a 'young woman' along the way, Scatty, and end up in a Shadowrealm, guarded by some very strange creatures, which takes the form of an immense tree. The realm is ruled over by an Elder, thousands of years old: Hekate.
It seems that Nick Fleming is actually seven hundred year old, Nicholas Flamel and, from what the adults are saying, there are things the twins might not know about themselves. They are bewildered and frightened and try to escape, but escape from this nightmare is no longer possible. Their lives will, literally, never be the same again.
I'm pretty pleased that I picked this series up at last. I really enjoyed this pacey romp around the Californian countryside with Nicholas Flamel and his cohorts. It's full of excitement and imagination with many nods to ancient myth and ordinary history... or should I say *extra*ordinary history! I think there's room for a little more fleshing out of characters, I didn't feel I got to know the twins all that well for instance, but I'm sure that will come in the next books. Deslily tells me they get better and better and that wouldn't surprise me at all. I have the next one, The Magician, on my tbr pile and once I've knocked a few books off the library pile I'll get to it. Thanks to Deslily for the rec.